Michael McBride

While Senate sleepovers prove to be fun publicity stunts replete with dramatic unveilings of numerous hide-a-beds, slumber-stilted orations, and polarized politics; they harbor something much more insidious and much more dangerous. Senate hi-jinks are shifting the paradigm of American warfighting far out into the foreseeable future, and likely beyond.

Combined with the daily MSM bodycounts which are used only to skew support of the war away from President Bush and our Congressionally supported, UN mandate driven, Iraq invasion and re-construction; Congressional jockeying on the Iraq war and the current “surge” is beginning to define what American warfighting will look like in 2008 and beyond. And it is not good news for the military.

All of the contrived rhetoric and issue bobbing is sending a subtle message to warfighting staffs on what the next war must look like and be fought like. Here is a glimpse.

All previous casualty rate expectations will be supplanted by those of OIF I and II. Yes, the very same casualty rates bemoaned by the pols will actually be the benchmark for the next US engagement. American military success has actually lowered expected casualty rates to levels that will eventually become impossible to achieve, bringing us nearly to a point where we might never engage our troops again.

We have become so unrealistic in what we expect in terms of casualties that we are establishing standards that can never be met in the context of true warfare and warfighting.

A by-product of this lowered casualty expectation will be the need to increase the speed of success before the casualty rates exceed the new, lower thresholds for mission “failure.” Future operations will require that total “victory” be accomplished well before the time/casualty lines intersect at 3000 dead and 4.5 years duration.

Don’t doubt it. Talk of leaving Iraq began well before this week’s Senate slumber party, and coupled with the lightening successes of Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom I, the threshold shift for speed/casualty expectations have shifted into the impossible region. Congressional machinations have certainly established our patience level in building democracies, even though our own liberation and democratic formation process took over fourteen years and produced over 50,000 total casualties.

Michael McBride

Michael E. McBride retired as a Major from the Marine Corps and blogs at http://www.mysandmen.blogspot.com.

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